Yesterday I went to Hwagyesa Temple to live the life of a monk. This is called Temple Stay and it is unique to Korea. Temple Stay was created when the FIFA World Cup happened to create space for the numerous tourists that poured into Seoul. Temples opened their doors to accommodate tourists and taught them about Buddhist life.
I participated in a two day trip which involved finding oneself. The temple grounds were large and had Bukhansan mountain right beside it. It was quite scenic. When I first arrived I was kindly greeted by the monks and I registered. I shared a room with two older Korean men who were surprised that I was twenty one. Most people who attend Temple Stay at Hwagyesa are local Koreans who are old. There was only one other foreigner (Waygook in Korean) who was with me.
The day started off with a hike into the woods. I was able to take some cool pictures of Seoul from up there. We then received a tutorial on how to meditate. We then proceeded to meditate in the woods. Afterwards we went on a tour of the temple. Then we had dinner. It was a simple dinner which had rice, seaweed, tofu stew, radish kimchi, and other vegetables. It was delicious. Later in the night, we were introduced to some monks and practiced meditation and chanting. It was a relaxing experience to clear my mind and ponder about the meaning of existence. Day 2 involved chanting, praying, and tea with a monk. The q & a session with the monk was mostly in Korean but we got to ask some questions in English.
I really liked Temple Stay. I want to come back to a different temple and find enlightenment again.